No skills, no hope
Associate Viewpoint Editor
Bookstore Basketball is as full of its own traditions as the University itself. This is the story of a young tradition begun in the hallowed halls of Grace, in bygone days when Hotel Grace [1969-1996] was open for business and not the haven to University offices it has become. It's a tradition not of obscene names or athletic superiority, but one of dedicated individuals who realized their special lack of gift and made the best of it.
It's the spring of 1996, and five men of section 9-C realize that they've got no game. None whatsoever. Not only can't they shoot and score, they can barely dribble, and wouldn't know a zone from a jumpshot if their lives depended on it. So, tired of being ridiculed for their inability to find the free throw line, Brian Johnsen, Brian Hamilton, Tim McConnville, Joe Marchal and Mike Kinninger form Team No Skills.
Living up to their name and all expectations, Team No Skills lost resoundingly that first year, but not without a stunning display of creative plays and antics. Opponents were flabbergasted by the Matador Defense, which met the offense with a row of flag waving players yelling "Ole!" The Sit-Down Offense unnerved defenders when four of the five reclined on their side of the court leaving the fifth to take the ball to the basket. Most famous of all is the impenetrable Amoebae Offense, in which the ball bearing player is surrounded by an amorphous human chain of his teammates, unassailable until ready to shoot (fortunately, rarely scoring).
After a year in which the skills of the team were so pathetic that they forgot to register for the tournament, No Skills returned with new blood in '98 as Still No Skills, wowing officials by adding captain Steve Desch, who, because of high school basketball experience, was limited to shooting from half court. Two sophomores from the new section in Keough were recruited as well. One qualified by being debilitated enough to need the aid of a shillelagh to walk, the other submitted three years of church league basketball without ever sinking a basket as evidence of a total lack of skill.
In '99 the team returned as No Skills III: The Search For Desch (who had wondered off to graduate school). With what can only be explained as poor coaching and a lack of vision, the team won not one but two Bookstore games before finally being eliminated, 21-10.
This year, No Skills (Episode) IV: A No Hope enters the fray with new plays and dazzling freshmen recruits. While keeping much of the classic playbook, new ones borrowed from the obvious Star Wars theme have been added to vex the opposition. Recruits have been carefully instructed to avoid practicing or otherwise engaging in athletic events all semester, priming them for a spectacular loss.
No Skills IV (Brian Johnsen, Liam Thidemann, Adam Harvey, Devon "Meat" McShane, and yours truly) is playing Five Guys Who Can Penetrate But Not Score tonight at 6:15 on the Lyons Courts. Don't miss it: it'll to be the worst display of athleticism in the entire tournament. I guarantee it.
All Inside Stories for Friday, April 14, 2000